Category: Columnists

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'Manhattanization' is changing the face of downtown Chicago

Twenty-five years ago, a stroll south down Wabash Avenue toward the Chicago River on the Near North Side of Chicago was sooty and uneventful. A highl [...]

'05 condo conversion boom offers buyers more variety than '70s wave

During 1979, the height of condomania in the Windy City, nearly 4,800 rental apartments were converted to condominiums in downtown Chicago. That was d [...]

Most condominium problems found in common areas, not units

One of the questions I mulled over while preparing a final exam for students in my home inspection class was, what percentage of building problems are [...]

As home prices keep growing, Chicago buyers wonder, "What bubble?"

Home prices in 2005 appear to be strapped to the space shuttle and headed for the stratosphere. Boosted by skyrocketing home prices on the East and W [...]

Hardwood floors often poorly installed

Hardwood floors are more popular than ever in new construction, and with good reason. They offer buyers versatility and a rich, natural look. With pro [...]

Zero-down payment loans too good to be true

Just when home foreclosure rates started to decline a bit in Chicago, some crafty lenders began touting amazing new shortcuts to homeownership. The l [...]

Shop around, use caution in buying new construction condos and houses

After 19 years as a home inspector, I've seen everything imaginable during the home buying process, including one suicide and a homicide. We'll leave [...]

Millennium Park condominium boom creating shortage of affordable parking

The amazing popularity of downtown Chicago's Millennium Park has sparked a boom in condominium development, but it also is fueling a race for parking [...]

Electrical, plumbing systems not always new in conversions

Most vintage condominium conversions in Chicago these days are "gut rehabs." This means that the developer keeps only the shell of the old building an [...]

City likely to see biggest condo conversion market in 25 years during '05

With home-loan rates hovering at historic lows, experts say now is a good time to purchase a condominium conversion residence for quick occupancy and [...]

Downtown's record building matched by record buying in 1st quarter of '05

If 2004 was a big year for new housing in downtown Chicago – and hefty sales figures and ubiquitous construction cranes leave little doubt &#821 [...]

Brick veneer can present problems in new masonry homes

In recent years masonry problems have been cropping up in new construction all over the city. The trend is ironic given Chicago's history. After all, [...]

Historic conversions offer landmark savings at both ends of price spectrum

All adaptive reuse condominiums in the city are not created equal. According to Appraisal Research Counselors' latest "Downtown Chicago Residential B [...]

Bulk of condo problems found in common areas, not units

One of the questions I mulled over while preparing the final exam for students in my home inspection class was what percentage of building problems ar [...]

Gold Coast real estate was money in bank as prices soared

Remember 1984? The Dow Jones average was 1,154, compared to a sky-high 10,791 in 2004. A gallon of gasoline for your brand new $20,000 Corvette cost [...]

Simple review can prevent hazards on Chicago porches

As spring rolls around and the weather improves, city residents will take to the outdoors, and for many of us, that means making use of that longstand [...]

Downtown Chicago condo market rocks with record sales in 2004

Condos of all sizes and shapes were king of Chicago's downtown housing market last year. With the interest rates at historic lows, the downtown marke [...]

Hidden costs can lurk around doors, windows in new homes

The fact that everything you can see looks good in your new condo or townhouse does not mean that all is well. Two of the places you probably haven't [...]

North lakefront housing values, developments continue to rise

Home and condominium values are on the rise in Chicago's North Side neighborhoods as lakefront living lures an increasing number of buyers, real estat [...]

Solid contruction, easy access make lofts a great housing choice

Beyond surface design, most people who want to live in lofts don't give much consideration to construction standards in this uniquely urban form of ho [...]
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